Sunday, October 07, 2007

ATM- Camp Bondsteel

Well, I cannot blame it on the weather as it was near perfect for the distance. Although it did have me worried when I did my one-mile warm up and I was sweating. I cannot blame it on not knowing the course as I was one of three who surveyed the course. Sure, the course was full of rolling hills but I even did 8X0.335 hills on Friday. No, I cannot blame it on those hills; I felt that they would not hinder me, even when they were done less than 48 hours from race time; in fact, I felt they would help me.

As I started with my warm up, there was this Belgian female soldier running strides... and she was doing them really FAST. I knew she would have a good race. 15 minutes to the start. An American soldier sings the anthem and does a decent job. The start is delayed because we're waiting for a flyover of two blackhawk helicopters.

The organizer says: runners - on your marks, get set.. GO! And this Belgian literally bolts to the lead. I start conservatively and my breathing is already a bit labored. I drop the effort a bit after .3 miles or so. I am running comfortably. First mile in 6:16. You are thinking I started too fast. Not really, let me 'splain, the first mile is downhill. I knew I was going to give some time back in the next mile which had a nice hill. Sure enough, the second mile was 7:16. Am I running a dumb race? Maybe. I am comfortably in 20th place or so. This Italian soldier guns past me. I just keep a good effort. I catch up to an American soldier from Ohio. He is a fast runner but has a head cold and I drop him rather easily. Third mile in 6:50 (20:23) and I am pleased as I am feeling strong.

I catch up to a group of four runners who are having trouble with another hill and I move past them; one of them tries to stay with me but I know he will drop back as his breathing is too hard for the distance. I reach the end of the road and I slow down as I hit the hairpin turn and grab a cup of 'rade. This portion is pancake flat and I thrive on it. Mile 4, 6:20 (26:43). I look at my watch and I wonder when the implosion will happen. I decide to try to maintain the effort. I catch up to two young American soldiers. One of them beat me badly on the half-mary a few weeks ago. Today is not his day. As we run together for about a minute, two non-American soldiers move past us and they look really strong. I would not see them again until the finish. The Belgian female is about .3 miles ahead of me. Reeling her in does not seem possible; running with her are two American soldiers. Mile 5, 7:00 flat. I'll take anything 7 or under. I am feeling good, but I know the hard part is yet to come.

I separate from the two young Americans and keep a nice rhythm. Mile 6, 6:28 (40:11). At this point I am glad I have given it a good effort. If I implode, it will not be due to lack of effort... and I will have ran a nice tempo run. Mile 7 has a nice flat first half, and then the fun begins. I catch up to a struggling slender non-American runner and easily pass him. Then after a challenging hill, I make a turn into a steeper hill. This is where two of the Belgian soldiers pass me. I do not chase them for I know this hill saps my energy if I take it too strongly. Mile 7, 6:45 (46:56).

I am a bit surprised by the split. I am still running strong. I do the math, this was a good sign [that is, that I was able to do basic math], and the next three miles can be ran in 7:30s and I would still meet my goal. The two Belgians falter and I decide to move ahead. We turn into a fairly flat section that would last about .3 miles. I make a turn into the hill where I did my hill repeats. I crest the hill and my legs feel heavy. The Belgians pass me. I let them go but not too far ahead of me. Mile 8, 6:53 (53:49). Damn, I could have a minor blow-up and still meet my pre-race goal.

We run on a flat section for a short while, then we have this rather steep downhill where I try to take it easy as I know we have this curvy challenging hill. I am still running behind the Belgians. They choose to cut the tangent. I go the long way as I know it makes the grade more bearable to run. I crest the last tough hill and I ma just a few steps behind the Belgians. Mile 9, 6:59.

Knowing what was waiting for me was crucial in me making the decision to give it my all. I pass them and they do not respond. I make another turn into a nice downhill where I have happened to pick it up countless times. This is QuintoSol's neighborhood and gravity lengthens my stride. I see the two American runners that were unreachable a few miles back. I also see the female Belgian. It does NOT dawn on me that I will catch them. But I do. I pass a young talented American soldier and he just does not respond. I make one last turn and pass the female Belgian AND the other American soldier. She does not pick it up, BUT he does. It's a short hill and I yell at him to go for it, that he has the younger legs. We are running mano-a-mano, right next to each other. I am just waiting for him to pull ahead of me. But he doesn't. He is breathing really hard. So am I. We crest that last one hill and the road is now even. My legs turn over a bit quicker, as if someone else is doing it for me. I am in disbelief that I am still ahead of this young buck. I cross the line in 1:07:22 (6:34) by my watch... and 1:07:08 by the official results. I ended up beating him by 26/100 of a second. It cannot get any closer than that... AND he was in my age group.

I finished 11th OA out of 250 and 3rd in my AG... yeah, I am one happy dude. Not only did I meet my goal, but I PR'd by three seconds (I am using my watch time rather than the 'official time')... Oh, and if you're following along, MAJ S who handily beat me by over five minutes in the half-mary, came in eight places behind me and 80-something seconds slower... life is sweet.

...Bring it on, CIM!!! :-D

That's what 26/100 of a second looks like

3 comments:

Fran said...

Nice job with the PR. Catching people is always fun during a race.

The Salty One said...

Yeah!!! Way to go! See, you ran smart and trusted yourself and it paid off. Take that MAJ S!!

Joseph P. Wood said...

Congrats and terrific race report! It's great to have that race where you have it in you to take it to another gear. Job well done.